(Washington, DC) On July 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm, the Unified Communications Center (UCC) lost electrical power for 3 minutes. The UCC houses the District’s Office of Unified Communications (OUC) and Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMA), both of which were temporarily affected by this interruption.
The temporary loss of power affected 911 and 311 telephone communications and radio communications for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS). Specifically, 911 communications experienced longer than normal wait times. Wait times averaged between 2-9 minutes during the power outage. 311 communications were off line 16 minutes. MPD radio communications were impacted for 5 minutes while the radio zone controller switched to the back-up center. The FEMS radio system remained operational after a seamless transition to the back-up mode. Currently, 911 operations are working from the back-up center and all communications systems are functioning normally.
The Department of General Services (DGS) is the agency responsible for all core building systems inside the UCC. During a repair of the UPS system, while the emergency generator system was in operation, a computer component for the generator failed resulting in a momentary lapse of power to the building. The problem was remedied within 3 minutes. DGS has identified the need for replacement of faulty equipment responsible for the power issues which led to these events. DGS has scheduled the installation of a secondary PEPCO feed into the facility to augment power to the building and is researching additional ways to increase surge protection. DGS in concert with OUC Communications has also commissioned a third-party assessment of the systems to mitigate such issues in the future.